D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Started Apr 27, 2009 | Discussions
JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

I got to play around with some D3x files, and it looks like USM 30/6/2 is ideal for capture sharpening in NX2 with in-camera sharpening disabled (0).

-Jason

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docmike Regular Member • Posts: 302
I came to roughly similar figures for the D700, maybe a little ...........

................less in intensiy. But does n't it depend to a large extent on the sharpness of the lens you're using in the first place? for example you might need to sharpen less if a pic was taken say with a Tamron 70-200 campared with say a Nikon 70-200 2.8 vr (NOT THAT I'M KNOCKING THE TAMRON AT ALL IN ANY WAY)
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Michael

Iliah Borg Forum Pro • Posts: 22,651
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

JasonOdell wrote:

I got to play around with some D3x files, and it looks like USM
30/6/2 is ideal for capture sharpening in NX2 with in-camera
sharpening disabled (0).

Jason, you know of course that "camera sharpening" can't be substituted with USM after conversion...

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OP JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

I would say they can, and do a better job of it, too.

Until someone from Nikon shows me how Picture Control sharpening factors in settings like ISO, lens, and camera model, I'll continue to sharpen using my technique.

Try to get fine details out of Picture Control sharpening without using USM. It's hard.

-Jason

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jeddv Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Iliah Borg wrote:

Jason, you know of course that "camera sharpening" can't be
substituted with USM after conversion...

I would be genuinely very interested to know your reasoning for this comment.

jeddv Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

JasonOdell wrote:

I got to play around with some D3x files, and it looks like USM
30/6/2 is ideal for capture sharpening in NX2 with in-camera
sharpening disabled (0).

-Jason

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Hi Jason,

I tried your recommendation out and it seemed good, (although perhaps a tad strong for my taste this early in the workflow). I have a few questions though:

1) Is there a reason why you prefer USM over High Pass for capture sharpening?

2) What are the advantages to capture sharpening and then output sharpening after Photoshop processing, as opposed to doing all sharpening at the end?

3) What are the disadvantages to capture sharpening?

4) How did you decide on these values?

Cheers,

Jonathan

Iliah Borg Forum Pro • Posts: 22,651
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

I think a good strategy is to apply in NX low amount of sharpening of "in-camera" type, and then to sharpen with USM or High Pass. Getting better MTFs that way.

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OP JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

I'm sure that works well, too.

My general observations suggest that as long as you keep Picture Control sharpening at three or less, it is OK for Capture Sharpening-- but you still need to use USM or other methods to bring out maximum fine detail.

My concern with using PC sharpening is that it does not account for noise, whereas you can get control over the sharpening parameters better with the USM tool, which has threshold and radius control.

-Jason

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OP JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Hi Jason,
I tried your recommendation out and it seemed good, (although perhaps
a tad strong for my taste this early in the workflow). I have a few
questions though:

1) Is there a reason why you prefer USM over High Pass for capture
sharpening?

More parameters to control.

2) What are the advantages to capture sharpening and then output
sharpening after Photoshop processing, as opposed to doing all
sharpening at the end?

It depends on whether you are resizing. Capture Sharpening is what you do to make the image look nice at 100%-- and mitigate the OLP filter on the sensor. My Capture Sharpen step in NX2 is the last thing I do before I crop, resize or change any image dimensions for printing or web output. This gives me a clean "master image" that I save as a version in NX2.

3) What are the disadvantages to capture sharpening?

None that I'm aware of, unless you apply too strong of a setting or don't turn off sharpening in-camera.

4) How did you decide on these values?

Trial and error, based on previous experience and comparing output with that of Picture Control sharpening. The goal is to get a crisp image with good detail at 100 without getting any obvious halo artifacts.

-Jason

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Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

JasonOdell wrote:

3) What are the disadvantages to capture sharpening?

None that I'm aware of, unless you apply too strong of a setting or
don't turn off sharpening in-camera.

Both the question and the answer are problematic ; ). You pretty much have to do capture sharpening to offset the digital sampling impacts (and AA filter). The question is whether you're better off doing a "capture sharpening" and a later "output sharpening," or just waiting to do one sharpening for output. The answer to that question depends a bit upon what you're using your photos for, but someone trying to squeeze every last bit out of raw almost certainly has to do capture sharpening. The benefit is that you get acuity and edges back. The disadvantage is that it changes micro contrasts to do so. Depending upon how you capture sharpen and the level of detail in the image, changing micro contrasts can be a problem further downstream in the workflow. There is a debate, for instance, about whether you should do capture sharpening before resizing or not. At least one publication I've worked with doesn't want capture sharpening in the originals they get for this claimed reason.

4) How did you decide on these values?

Trial and error,

This, of course, is the reason why there isn't a single sharpening method that everyone should be using. The evaluator of the "trial and error" is always the practitioner, so this is a subjective evaluation. Use what anyone tells you, including me, as no more than a starting place for your own trial and error.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (19 and counting)
http://www.bythom.com

OP JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Agreed. My settings are nothing more than a starting point. They should give decent results, but you may find images where it is too strong, or others where it isn't strong enough.

For example, my "default" sharpening settings for the D3 are 40/5/2. However, I often dial it back to 35/5/2 when I'm shooting portraits. If there is some noise in the equation, then I'll up the threshold setting.

-Jason

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jeddv Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Depending upon how you capture sharpen and the level of detail in the image,
changing micro contrasts can be a problem further downstream in the
workflow. There is a debate, for instance, about whether you should
do capture sharpening before resizing or not. At least one
publication I've worked with doesn't want capture sharpening in the
originals they get for this claimed reason.
--
Thom Hogan

Hi,
What kinds of problems arise 'further downstream'?

More narrowly, what issues arise with resizing? Or to ask another way, what are the claims made on different sides of the debate?
Cheers,
Jonathan

chezshaypdx Forum Member • Posts: 51
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Hi

First of all thanks for sharing your results-having both your guides and knowing you make money with your expertise, it is awfully nice of you to share for free.

As for my $.02, though it is best, perhaps, to turn off in camera sharpening and do it all in post, it is hard to judge sharpness on the back as the embedded jpegs, even when you shoot only raw, look a bit soft.

cheers

Michael

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Nikon D800
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

jeddv wrote:

More narrowly, what issues arise with resizing? Or to ask another
way, what are the claims made on different sides of the debate?

If you make changes to micro contrast, they are scaled on re-rezzing. At some point, the changes themselves become visible.

Let me see if I can use numbers to illustrate. Let's say for a moment that we have a system where each element (pixel) can be a value from 0 to 9, and we have a row of data that comes from the capture device that looks like this:

4 5 5 4 5 5 7 7 6 4 4

If we apply a traditional unsharp mask to that data, we might get:

4 5 5 4 5 4 8 8 7 3 4

I'll put those one on top of another so you can see the change in micro contrast:

4 5 5 4 5 5 7 7 6 4 4
4 5 5 4 5 4 8 8 7 3 4
v ^ ^ ^ v changes

Now what happens when we scale that up? Well, that depends a lot upon which method we use to do so. But the argument basically goes like this: you don't want to scale up those troughs at the edges of the peaks. That's how halos get visible. Moreover, when you now add output sharpening to the re-rezzed sample, you add further micro contrast adjustments at the edges of the peaks and troughs, which the purist says produces "busy" transitions.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (19 and counting)
http://www.bythom.com

jrp Regular Member • Posts: 349
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

How well does the Auto Sharpening setting work on NX2?

Does it pick a number and apply it uniformly across the image, or does it work adaptively, with less sharpening in the noise?

Al Contributing Member • Posts: 731
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

JasonOdell wrote:

Agreed. My settings are nothing more than a starting point. They
should give decent results, but you may find images where it is too
strong, or others where it isn't strong enough.

For example, my "default" sharpening settings for the D3 are 40/5/2.
However, I often dial it back to 35/5/2 when I'm shooting portraits.
If there is some noise in the equation, then I'll up the threshold
setting.

-Jason

That works very well, what do you use for the D700? Thanks.

OP JasonOdell Senior Member • Posts: 2,282
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

I use the same settings as the D3.

-Jason

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Al Contributing Member • Posts: 731
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

JasonOdell wrote:

I use the same settings as the D3.

-Jason

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Well, duh, I typed D700 in my original post, but I meant settings for the D300. Sorry. What do you use for D300?

jeddv Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: D3x Capture Sharpening Settings (NX2)

Iliah Borg wrote:

I think a good strategy is to apply in NX low amount of sharpening of
"in-camera" type, and then to sharpen with USM or High Pass. Getting
better MTFs that way.

-- hide signature --

Forgive me for asking but what do you mean by "in-camera" type?

Also, what do you mean by MTFs in this context? Do you mean modulation transfer values?

frederic fahraeus Contributing Member • Posts: 504
Dont sharpen at all!

If its for stock or pro use, try and not sharpen at all and leave the in-camera sharpening OFF.

There are far better methods of sharpening then NX or ACR, in any case, clients or agencies should decide the level of sharpness.

This is only for professional use, NOT for the family album.

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